India's claim to be an IT power house was severely eroded when the Prime Minster's Office (PMO) e-mail system was affected by a computer virus last year, and the IT experts posted at the PMO failed to identify the problem for three whole months.
The PMO office discovered that many mails sent to the PMO's Microsoft Outlook Express inbox, didn't reach the inbox between February and April last year and had to finally switch to the open-source email Squirrel Mail.
Although the problem started in February, the PMO discovered it only in April and informed the Central Information Commission (CIC) during a hearing session meant to hear retired Air Commodore Lokesh Batra's case, who had complained to PMO, regarding the discrepancies in the Hindi edition of the RTI Act.
While submitting its complaint to the CIC, the PMO said that many mails sent to the Outlook Express inbox did not make it and they were forced to replace it with the Squirrel Mail.
''What is shocking is that IT experts posted at the PMO failed to identify and rectify the problem instantaneously, knowing fully well that hackers could hack any mail security system with a virus but still kept the problem lingering on for three whole months,'' commented a cyber forensic expert.
Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said the Indian government agency sites and systems have been the target for hackers and these attacks have multiplied with worms or viruses forming a major part of the attack infecting the systems.
The Indian intelligence agencies also said that anti-Indian elements and the Pakistan intelligence agency, the ISI, are mainly responsible for attacks against Indian computer systems.